- Unprecedented Demand: Sanofi has seen a significant surge in demand for its product Dulcolax, leading to supply constraints.
- Misuse of Laxatives: Some individuals misuse laxatives like Dulcolax and MiraLax for weight loss, which can lead to severe health risks.
- Rise in Constipation: There has been an observed increase in constipation cases, with factors like reduced physical activity and unhealthy diets being potential contributors.
Pharmacy giant Sanofi has alerted the public about supply constraints for its over-the-counter gastroenterology medication, Dulcolax, which is a laxative. This was reported by NBC News on Sept. 12. Physicians are advising the public against misusing the medication for purposes other than its primary use, which is to relieve constipation. Some individuals have been using Dulcolax for weight loss. Sanofi has experienced an unprecedented demand for Dulcolax, leading to its absence on some retail shelves. Similarly, Haleon’s fiber supplement, Benefiber, has seen a surge in demand, though no shortages have been reported. The demand for polyethylene glycol 3350, known generically as MiraLax, has also resulted in shortages in certain drug stores. The FDA, however, has not announced a national shortage. The rise in constipation as a medical condition is attributed to factors like reduced physical activity, unhealthy diets, and increased medication intake. In recent times, the expenditure on over-the-counter laxatives has escalated from $800 million in 2002 to $1.5 billion.
The American Gastroenterological Association states that 16% of U.S. adults exhibit symptoms of constipation. On platforms like TikTok, some users have been promoting a MiraLax “detox” for weight loss. Gastroenterologists generally discourage the use of these products for weight loss due to potential side effects such as cramping, gas, bloating, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and low potassium levels, which can elevate the risk of heart attacks.